According to new research a daily glass of pomegranate juice may be effective in slowing down the progression of prostate cancer.
A study sponsored by a juice producer has found that the blood content levels of PSA took much longer to double in men who drank the juice.
PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is a protein marker for prostate cancer.
The faster PSA levels increase in the blood of men after treatment, the greater their potential for dying of prostate cancer.
The researchers say that the study carried out was on a small scale and more evidence is needed before doctors recommend it.
In the study, the time until PSA doubled after treatment extended to 54 months on average when the men started drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice a day whereas prior to drinking the juice, PSA doubled in an average of 15 months.
Dr. Allan Pantuck, a urologist at UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center and the study's lead author says that represents a very big difference and is an indicator of how quickly the cancer grows.
In the study each of the 50 men who took part had radiation, surgery or other treatment for prostate cancer before enrolling and suffered no major side effects from drinking the juice.
Pantuck says at this stage the evidence is preliminary but a larger study is already under way in an attempt to confirm the findings which are expected in two years.
Pantuck says that pomegranate juice is a non-toxic treatment that it could possibly delay or prevent the need for other therapies with unpleasant side effects such as hot flashes, fatigue, depression and impotence.
The research team suspect that substances known as polyphenols or a combination of ingredients in the fruit juice may be able to fight prostate cancer, but exactly how that works is unclear.
Dr. Pantuck and his colleagues say that pomegranate juice is high in antioxidants, and there is good evidence that inflammation plays an important role in prostate cancer.
The findings are published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
The study was funded by a trust established by the owners of Pom Wonderful, a brand of pomegranate juice who supplied the juice used in the study.